Fares, rail policy and DfT news

14.03.19

GTR fined record £5m for ‘persistent and prolonged failures’ in May timetable chaos

Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) has been fined a record £5m for its role in last year’s May timetable chaos.

The ORR criticised the train operator for “persistent and prolonged failures” in informing passengers as they suffered eight weeks of chaos on the Thameslink and Northern rail routes with hundreds of services cancelled or delayed each day.

The rail regulator carried out the investigation into GTR and Northern’s actions to provide information to passengers in the run-up to and during the severe disruption, and found that GTR had broken the rules for passenger information.

It said GTR “failed to provide appropriate, accurate and timely information,” leaving passengers with “little certainty” around which trains would run.

Some trains were permanently removed from the timetable and passengers were not clearly informed, with further trains removed or cancelled on a daily basis at very short notice and a “severe lack of certainty” for passengers up until the point of travel.

Some services became “ghost trains” as they were introduced so late that there was insufficient time to input their information in journey planners. Replacement buses were used but prolonged delays meant passengers weren’t aware they were available.

The ORR also criticised an “inadequate” internal communication which left frontline staff unable to assist passengers, and it said the effect of all these failures “left passengers with very little notice or certainty.”

This is the first time the ORR has issued a fine for breach of licence, and GTR has 21 days to respond to the penalty notice.

GTR chief executive officer Patrick Verwer said: “We are disappointed at today’s fine imposed by the Office of Rail and Road. We are making significant improvements to information for passengers.

 “The severe disruption following last May’s timetable introduction was due to industry-wide factors and we are sorry for the serious effect this had on our passengers.

“GTR has paid £18m in passenger compensation and is investing a further £15m in improvements for passengers for its part in the timetable issues.”

A separate investigation into Northern found that although passengers did experience inadequate information in many cases, the operator had considered and taken reasonable steps to give passengers information.

Therefore, no further action will be taken against Northern – although the ORR has also written to all train companies and Network Rail to require them to review crisis management plans in the light of its findings.

Stephanie Tobyn, the deputy director of consumers at the ORR, said: “The disruption experienced by many passengers as a result of the May timetable introduction was awful.

“When disruption happens, poor quality information makes an already difficult and frustrating situation worse.

"The exceptional circumstances that followed the introduction of the timetable meant that providing perfect advance information for passengers was from the outset an impossible task and GTR’s overriding focus was on providing as much capacity as it could to meet customer demand.

“However persistent and prolonged failures in information provision meant that passengers couldn’t benefit from the operational improvement it was trying to make.”

Comments

There are no comments. Why not be the first?

Add your comment

 

related

rail technology magazine tv

more videos >

latest rail news

£200m Edinburgh tram extension given green light despite criticism for ‘arrogant’ plans of ‘unknown financial risk’

15/03/2019£200m Edinburgh tram extension given green light despite criticism for ‘arrogant’ plans of ‘unknown financial risk’

Councillors have rubber-stamped £207m plans to extend Edinburgh’s tram line from the city centre to Newhaven despite major criticism ... more >
Safety warning issued after runaway road-rail vehicle raises concerns over brake maintenance and ‘inadequate supervision’

15/03/2019Safety warning issued after runaway road-rail vehicle raises concerns over brake maintenance and ‘inadequate supervision’

The RAIB has issued new safety recommendations after a road rail vehicle (RRV) ran downhill and out of control along a track for 340 metres. ... more >
Rail industry urges government rethink to deliver rail electrification at half the costs

15/03/2019Rail industry urges government rethink to deliver rail electrification at half the costs

The cost of rail electrification projects could be slashed by as much 50%, the Railway Industry Association (RIA) has revealed as it urges the go... more >

editor's comment

23/01/2018Out with the old...

Despite a few disappointing policy announcements, especially for the electrification aficionados amongst us, 2017 was, like Darren Caplan writes on page 20, a year generally marked by positive news for the rail industry. We polished off the iconic Ordsall Chord (p32), hit some solid milestones on Thameslink (p40), progressed on ambitious rolling stock orders (p16), and finally started moving forward on HS2 (p14) ‒ paving the way for a New Ye... read more >

last word

Encouraging youngsters to be safe on the railway

Encouraging youngsters to be safe on the railway

This summer, Arriva Group's CrossCountry and the Scout Association joined to launch a new partnership to promote rail safety among young people. Chris Leech MBE, business community manager at the... more > more last word articles >

'the sleepers' daily blog

Manchester's masterplan with Transport for Greater Manchester

12/03/2019Manchester's masterplan with Transport for Greater Manchester

Simon Warburton, transport strategy director at Transport for Greater Manchester, outlines the region’s ambitious vision for the future. First things first – the good news: Greater Manchester is a success. Over the past 20 years, we have transformed this city-region into a confident, ambitious, and outward-looking conurbation ... more >
read more blog posts from 'the sleeper' >

comment

Are you an apprentice or provider in the rail industry? We want to hear from you…

13/03/2019Are you an apprentice or provider in the rail industry? We want to hear from you…

Last week was National Apprenticeship Week (NAW), celebrating the positive impact apprenticeships make not just on the individual apprentices the... more >
Safety of technical systems: the next 30 years

12/03/2019Safety of technical systems: the next 30 years

George Bearfield, visiting professor of railway system safety at the University of Huddersfield and director of health and safety at Rock Rail, t... more >
Delivering innovation through collaboration with Rambus

12/03/2019Delivering innovation through collaboration with Rambus

Russell McCullagh, vice president and general manager of ticketing at Rambus, tells more on the company’s collaboration with Worldline to a... more >
HS2: Cutting through Cumbria

12/03/2019HS2: Cutting through Cumbria

Cumbria Chamber of Commerce is arguing for HS2 services from London to call at Carlisle, Oxenholme and Penrith. The chamber’s policy lead, ... more >

rail industry focus

View all News

interviews

Women in rail - is the industry on the right track?

12/03/2019Women in rail - is the industry on the right track?

RTM sits down with Samantha Smith, sole female member of the TransPennine Route Upgrade Alliance Leadership Team, to find out more about encourag... more >